Are concerns about your business surviving through the recession keeping you awake at night? If yes, then you're not alone. A survey of 500 small business executives, conducted by Reno, Nevada-based workman's compensation insurance firm EMPLOYERS, revealed that 65 percent have the same concern.
"About 20 percent of respondents said their main concern was the economy. But many other responses, from new avenues for growth to operation expenses, are also functions of the economy and point to a general sense that the business environment has them worried," says Martin Welch, president and COO of EMPLOYERS.
Todd Uterstaedt, CEO of Baker Daboll, a Cincinnati-based executive coaching firm, makes a living by helping business owners and executives cope with stress. "I've been coaching for 10 years; even during the last couple of recessions I don't think I've seen this number of people struggling to handle stress or the intensity of the stress they're dealing with," he says.
The troubled economy can be especially stressful for small business owners, adds Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress. "The CEO of a huge corporation who has to give pink slips to 5,000 workers he has never met would not be under as much stress as the head of a small firm who is forced to fire a few employees he has known and worked with for years," Rosch says.
So what can CEOs do to help their stress levels?
Rosch recommends leaning on a social network and sharing problems with peers—which is especially challenging for CEOs.
Uterstaedt agrees. "Finding someone you can trust and just talking through things is critical," he says. Uterstaedt suggests looking to others, such as clients and employees, for help. "Ask clients how they're engaging with their teams and how they get through tough times," he says, adding that too often, CEOs hunker down and depend only on themselves.
"They often feel like they've got the weight of the world on their shoulders, and they forget the strengths of the team around them," Uterstaedt says.
Executives should also devote time to whatever helps them recharge their batteries, whether it's a 45-minute walk every morning or painting every Sunday afternoon, Uterstaedt advises.
"Stress is for the long haul, so you have to develop routines for yourself and for team leaders that allow you all to recharge," he says. "People say, I don't have time, but do you have time for the consequences if you don't?"